- The Maronites are Christians
of the Antiochian Patriarchate who took their name after St.
Maron (410) their Patron Saint and founder of their Church. Toward
the end of the fourth century, St. Maron, a hermit who lived
near Antioch, sent some of his disciples to evangelize the pagan
population of the Lebanese mountains. When the Maronite hierarchy
with the bulk of the Maronite faithful took refuge in the Lebanese
mountains, it found a thriving Maronite community.
- Since that time, Lebanon became
the see of the Maronite Patriarchate and the center from which
the Maronite people and missionaries spread all over the world.
In Lebanon, the Maronites developed as a community and acquired
the characteristics which became their permanent hallmark.
- By the middle of the seventh
century, Syria had fallen to the Arab conquest and the Maronite
hierarchy could no longer find the atmosphere for its Christian
witness. It came to the inaccessible mountains of Lebanon where
the Maronite community permanently established its homeland.
Through the centuries, the Maronite people and Lebanon interacted.
They transformed the rocky land into fertile terraces and the
ramparts of its mountains into a natural refuge for all persecuted
minorities in the area.
- During the fourteen centuries
of life in Lebanon, the Maronites developed a unique spiritual,
liturgical and cultural patrimony. They distinguished themselves
from the beginning by their attachment to the teaching of the
Ecumenical Councils and their uninterrupted union with Rome was
a factor in making them the best exponents of Western culture
in the West. Through their long struggle for freedom with other
religious and ethnic minorities, they acquired special qualities
of endurance, appreciation for openness to other communities,
and the ability to interact with other cultures and civilizations.
- The Maronites have been and
continue to be pioneers in the field of human relations and spiritual
and cultural exchange between East and West.